Advent calendars have come a long way from their roots as paper windows opening onto printed festive images. But the anticipation of whether today might hold a robin or a wreath wore off in recent years, and a daily December chocolate soon became predictable. Even finding gin, cheese or a packet of pork crackling as today’s treat barely raises an eyebrow. So what are the best unusual advent calendars for 2018?

Verdict has strayed off the beaten path to bring you alternative advent calendars that will let you count down to the big day with more original daily gifts to get your chestnuts roasting.

The beard oil advent calendar

Unusual advent calendars for 2018: beard oil

Who is it for? Anyone cultivating facial hair

Price: £29.99

No bearded individual wants to struggle through the festive season with insufficiently luxuriant whiskers. This advent calendar delivers a daily 2ml glass bottle of beard oil in a range of fragrances, including sandalwood, lavender and Sicilian lemon to leave facial hair soft and scented in the countdown to the big day.

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Buy Beard Oil Advent Calendar

The cat treat advent calendar

Unusual advent calendars for 2018: cat treats

Who is it for? Feline friends

Price: £10

Our furry housemates shouldn’t feel left out of the excitement in the run-up to Christmas. Lily’s Kitchen offers a hand-drawn Advent Calendar for cats filled with festive treats, including Chicken with Liver, Chicken with Shrimp and Turkey with Cranberry. Dogs needn’t feel left out – Lily’s has a calendar for them too. But until our pets evolve opposable thumbs, you’ll probably need to give them a hand to open the windows.

Buy Advent Calendar for Cats

The wildflower seed advent calendar

Unusual advent calendars for 2018: willow seed

Who is it for? Green-fingered gardeners

Price: £32

What better way to get through the cold, dark days on winter than planning ahead for the green shoots of spring? This classically-illustrated box holds 24 seed envelopes that can be pegged to the enclosed line for a vintage-style display.  Plant the contents and be rewarded in a few months with a display of wildflowers, including ragged robin, wild candytuft, forget-me-not, meadowsweet and bellflower.

Buy Gardeners’ Seed Advent Calendar

The ‘never enough socks’ advent calendar

Unusual advent calendars for 2018: socks

Who is it for? Those in need of cosy toes

Price: £149.95

Some people dread getting yet another pair of socks for Christmas. But others, presumably, can’t wait and want to treat themselves to a new cotton-blend pair every day in December. If your sock drawer is in need of a total, colourful refresh, the Happy Socks Advent Calendar’s one’s for you.

Buy Happy Socks Advent Calendar

The personalised stationery advent calendar

Unusual advent calendars for 2018: stationary

Who is it for? Journaling fans and stationery addicts

Price: £85

We at Verdict believe there is no such thing as too many notebooks or pens. If you agree, this is the perfect treat to keep you scribbling through December. A box personalised with your name opens to reveal a bookshelf of 24 slim boxes, holding gifts including a notebook, luxury pen, brass ruler and chic paperclips. Giving one to a friend practically guarantees a thank-you note!

Buy Martha Brook 24 Days of Stationery Advent Calendar

The erotic advent calendar

Unusual advent calendars for 2018: erotic

Who is it for? Couples looking to spice up advent

Price: £104.90
One way to while away the long, dark December nights in the run-up to Christmas is to grab some duvet time with a partner. The Amorelie Erotic Advent Calendar 2018 for Adult Couples comes packed with 24 saucy toys and accessories and comes in discreet packaging. And no last-minute dash to the all-night corner shop required – all batteries and charging cords are included.

Buy Amorelie Erotic Advent Calenda

The protein ball advent calendar

Unusual advent calendars for 2018: protein balls

Who is it for? Fitness fans

Price: £12.99

If you’ve been shunning the carb-laden Christmas treats in the quest for a six-pack, you don’t want to ruin your carefully-planned diet with any old chocolate. The Protein Co. offers a tasty alternative with one of six flavours of protein ball behind each window, including two vegan varieties.

Buy The Protein Ball Co. Advent Calendar

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